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East County News Service

June 28, 2015 (Rancho San Diego) – The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 12th to mark the opening of its newest exhibit, a 400-square foot Native Habitat Garden at the six-acre venue.  Honored guests included San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and Louise Andres, Rotary International Governor, District 5340.  The Habitat Garden, underwritten by several east San Diego County Rotary clubs, will demonstrate ecology landscaping, a growing gardening movement that emphasizes native plants grown in their natural associations, creating optimal habitat for birds, butterflies, and other beneficial wildlife. The exhibit will also demonstrate best practices for water-wise design, storm water pollution prevention, on-site water reclamation, and gray water systems.

The Habitat Garden will surround a 600-square foot Butterfly Pavilion featuring 12 species of native butterflies.  Info-graphics and a mini-amphitheater will enrich the educational potential of the new exhibit, which will serve both adult and young learners.  Monarch butterfly habitat will be emphasized within the new exhibit, and the public’s participation in creating Monarch butterfly habitats at home will be encouraged to help alleviate the species’ struggle to survive due to dwindling natural habitat.

Elyssa Robertson, the Garden's Board President, stated: "Having a garden that's naturally drought adapted to our climate is not only water smart and water-wise, it is also water genius."

Supervisor Jacob says the exhibit "is what our natural habitat is all about," adding, "if you can't get out in the backcountry... you can come to the garden."

State Senator Joel Anderson's office presented a certificate from the Legislature honoring the exhibit.

DeAna Verbeke, President of the Helix Water District Board noted; "When we heard funding was needed, we stepped up."

"The exhibit replicates our region's natural ecology and the Garden will soon be adding classes on how homeowners can create natural habitats at their homes," said Clayton Tschudy, the Garden's Director of Horticulture.

In addition to generous support from Rotary International Clubs of east San Diego County, the Native Habitat Garden is made possible with support from the Helix Water District; Village Nurseries; Mountain States Wholesale Nursery; Hunter Industries; Minshew Brothers Steel Construction; Frank & DeAna Verbeke; and numerous community donors.

The Water Conservation Garden is located at 12122 Cuyamaca College Dr. W, El Cajon.

Opened in 1999, in response to drought conditions in the early 1990's, the 6-acre Water Conservation Garden is dedicated to helping southern Californian's save water in the landscape.  A variety of how-to workshops are offered monthly, free docent-led tours are offered Saturdays at 10:30am, and self-guided tours may be enjoyed 9am-4pm, daily.  In addition, The Garden's Ms. Smarty-Plants™ program provides environmental education to nearly 50,000 children each year.  The Garden is supported by memberships, donations, grants, and water agency support.  For more information, please visit www.thegarden.org or call 619-660-0614 x10.



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